Coal may keep the lights on in WV (our state still burns it to produce 90% of our electricity) but it also keeps paying less and less taxes and costs us more and more on our power bills. It also costs us taxpayers more and more in making up for the taxes coal isn’t paying.
Governor Justice has not been shy about his love for the coal industry that’s made him wealthy. He’s also not shy about packing state agencies and boards with his coal shills.
The PSC and the newly revived Public Energy Authority both have been appointed majorities of coal industry promoters. The legislative majority is either cheerleading and/or passing bills to pick coal as the winner over all other concerns. No matter that natural gas and renewable energy generation are both way less expensive ways to make electricity. This is why our electric rates over the past 20 years have gone from some of the lowest in the nation now to some of the highest. And they just keep going up!
Here are some of the legislative headlines in the Charleston Gazette-Mail from just the past two weeks:
- “WV House energy panel approves coal severance tax exemption bill estimated to cost $22 million annually”
- “WV Senate fast-tracks, passes bill that would require Public Energy Authority approval for decommissioning power plants”
- “Bill that would designate sites deemed suitable for natural gas electric generation projects halted in WV House”
- “WV House passes bill that would require state ratepayers to pick up full cost of (coal) plants ordered to shut down by other regulators”
This editorial Headline says it all, “WV still moving backward on energy policy” (All but this editorial is the reporting of Mike Tony, who’s articles are worth an online subscription to the paper for 5 bucks a month.)
Citizen Action is fighting back as part of West Virginians for Energy Freedom, a coalition of several WV environmental organizations and citizens focused on shining light on this ‘what’s best for coal is what’s best for WV’ mentality, and opposing policies that keep us chained to the coal tipple at any cost. Instead of taking on the whole Coal Industrial Complex head on, we’re trying to get more ‘energy freedom’ here for our communities. We’re supporting the two Community Solar bills: SB627 & HB 2159 – ‘Establishing a solar program for subscribers to gain credits against their utility bills’. The Senate bill has Republican sponsors so that’s the one most likely to make progress this session. Call your Senators, especially if they are members of the Government Organization Committee where SB 627 was assigned. Tell them to support Energy Freedom by voting for the Community Solar bill! Here are some other quick actions you can take to let West Virginia lawmakers know that it’s crucial they support community solar (shared from our friends at the WV Highlands Conservancy):